The witch aesthetic is filled with Pinterest-ready crystal rings, handcrafted wands, and the finest organic herbs. If you believe the vast majority of the Internet, being a witch (Pagan or general magick user) is expensive. That’s all just glitz and glam for mood boards though. Cheap witchcraft is real, and you can practice it.
Anyone who has started working with magick has likely been overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff that is available in metaphysical shops, online, and private sellers. It seems like you need everything to manifest what you want. The right herbs, the right crystals, books, journals, pens, ink, the list goes on and on.
You absolutely do not need all those things to practice! If you want to be Pinterest perfect, you can get there slowly. The tips and tricks in this article will help you get started and build your magick supply closet slowly. Even if you aren’t a beginner, this article will give you a few money saving tips and tricks.
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Figure out how you want to practice
You don’t have to pick your life path right away, but doing some early research and reading will help you narrow down what you want to do, and filter out what you aren’t interested in at all. Different paths call for different supplies and although some may be close, this isn’t the case for all of them. For example, hoodoo practice is very different from ceremonial magick or Wiccan practice, but someone who identifies as a hearth or kitchen witch may find some overlap with both hoodoo and Wiccan practices.
There are many books out that give the foundations to quite a few practices. Wiccan books are common but there are also texts that cover Santeria, Vodou, hoodoo, chaos magick, shamanic paths, as well many other schools of magick. These books will not reveal everything there is to know about these practices, but they will give a new seeker some idea of what each path entails, so you can decide if it’s something you want to pursue or not.
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Many books are available through local libraries which are, of course, free. The Issuu app has full texts of some books, as well as samples of popular titles for free as well that can be read on a mobile device. Metaphysical books end up in the used bin quite a bit. If you have some money to spare, you can often find used copies through Amazon or other used books sellers. Shipping may take a little while longer, but you will save on the list price.
This bit of foundation research may help keep you from following a path that you are not into at all. Many people start with popular paths because that is all they are exposed to, only to find after a few months that they are dissatisfied. This isn’t the case for everyone, but it is a common story. Doing early research can help you get footing on your own path.
Related: Top 5 chaos magick books, by Psyche
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Figure out what you really need
After you’ve identified where you want to go with your practice, it’s time to start actually purchasing supplies. If you do the first step, you may find out that you don’t need anything at all in order to practice the path that you are starting with. However, this won’t be the case for everyone, and recommended supply lists aren’t really cut and dry.
If you are practicing something that includes worship, then you will likely need an altar space, and perhaps a few icons or images to grace that altar. You will also need an altar space if you practice ancestor veneration. This expense tends to be one of the first that people get hung up on. “I don’t have money for a lot of things!” is repeated time and time again. Good news, you don’t need it!
Altars can be set up on end tables, trays, on top of dressers and even in shoe boxes and closets. The very basics of what is needed are as follows. A clear space that will be undisturbed, an image or figure representing who is being honoured (this can be printed from the Internet or handmade, if need be), and a place to leave offerings. That’s it. If you’re feeling fancy, add an incense burner. This is the suggestion for keeping your altar very simple, you can add odds and ends to it slowly over time. As long as you have these basic things however, you’re ready to start.
Incense and candles are also common tools in many practices. You may see $2 each candles in metaphysical stores, but you don’t need to buy those. Candles and incense can be found anywhere and dollar store candles will work just as well as one you get from a specialty shop.
Will you be working “physical” magick? Will you be mixing herbs and other things together to connect with the outcome you wish to manifest? If you don’t plan on doing any sort of spells that involve herbs, then you don’t need them. Don’t feel compelled to buy them.
The same goes for things like crystals and divination tools. Unless you want to work with these things, you do not have to purchase them. Instead, focus on things you do need. If your practice calls for mediation, you may need a mediation pillow, whereas a salt lamp would not be necessary.
Focus on the things you need to get started. Don’t get hung up on what people who have been practicing for years have acquired. They didn’t start their journey with all of those things, and you don’t need to have them right now to have a fulfilling practice either.
Related: Creating your altar: A beginner’s guide, by Donyae Coles
Related: Portable shrines: You can take it with you, by Laura Perry
Related: Connecting with the dead, by Chris Allaun
Course: Ancestor Work Fundamentals, by Kalagni
Repurpose everything for magick
Once you have an idea of what you really need, it’s time to start taking stock of what you already have. Your living space probably has many things that you need for your practice already. You may be thinking about your home and apartment right now, and wonder what could possibly be there for your supplies, but in my experience, lots of stuff.
You probably already have candles and incense sitting around. An empty notebook can become a Book of Shadows or a dream journal. These don’t have to be leather-bound handmade books to start! You can transfer your work when you find the perfect journal.
Your kitchen likely contains many of the ingredients that you need for spell work; many common herbs are used as spices in our foods. Of course, there’s always salt that can be tossed around. Cups, bowls, and small plates can spend time on your altar and hold offerings until you can replace them with a specific piece used for the task.
If you want to try divination, but can’t afford tarot, a pack of playing cards can be used for basic cartomancy. Pendulums can be made from rings or keys tied to a piece of string.
When thinking of your practice, think about what you already have and what you can use for it. Before running out to the store, you can probably find more than a few things that you can use, right at home.
Related: Springtime kitchen witchery: 10 herbs for protection, peace, and luck, by Donyae Coles
Related: Dowsing without a pendulum: Divination on demand, by Charlz dela Cruz
Related: Why you should keep a magical journal, by Michael Reese
Shopping on a budget
Once you’ve scoured your home for supplies, you’ll probably end up with a list of things that you still need. Even the most resourceful person will find that there are just some things that you can’t quite replicate. At this point, there’s no choice but turn to the shops, but if you’re on a tight budget, the metaphysical shop is the last place to go.
For herbs, roots, and other plants, try the supermarket first. Most of what we use in practice can be found in the spice section. Check out the “ethnic” and “organic” sections to get whole and less processed versions of common additives like rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, etc.
Nonedible or edible plants that are not commonly purchased are a bit trickier to come by, but before you turn to an expensive shop, do some research. Many common plants, like mugwort can be sourced through local people, your friends and family may have some growing in their yard. Smartweed, chicory, and clover can also be found growing naturally in many climates. Investing in a “wild plants” book for your area can end up saving you a good deal on supply costs in the long run.
Home goods stores are not usually thought of places to find magical supplies, but with a bit of ingenuity, you can source all types of goods here. Altar decorations and necessities can be easily located in these shops, including some idols, depending on your location. Tools for ritual use, such as a cauldron or mortar and pestle, can be sourced from here for much lower costs than you would find at specialized shops.
Arts and craft shops supply a variety of jars and storage containers which can be useful for building a space for your supplies. They are often quite low price, and if you buy unfinished storage, you can decorate them to your own liking.
For things like reference books, if you couldn’t find what you needed through less expensive means, crystals, and specialized idols, you will need to see a shop that carries these items. If you are still looking to save money at this point, then it would be more prudent to shop online. Both Amazon and Etsy often have sellers that have these sorts of items for lower costs. If you’re willing to spend some time searching and comparing prices, you can often find what you need for a steal.
Make cheap witchcraft a reality
Having fancy things isn’t what makes your journey into this lifestyle worthwhile. You don’t have to have all the “right” things or the “right” look. Some people would say that you don’t need anything at all! Not everyone believes that, and these tips will help you build the practice you want in your budget.
Related: Making your own rituals: Choose your own adventure, by Donyae Coles
Related: Secret witch: Magick when you’re stuck in the broom closet, by Donyae Coles
Image credits: az, Ken Hawkins, En Bouton, and Chris Tse